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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
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The first Mass Effect art book, The Art of Mass Effect, was quite good. The Art of Mass Effect Universe is even better.

This handsome 184-page hardcover art book covers art for Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3. Yes, you'll be able to get a sneak peek at the upcoming Mass Effect 3, that's if you don't mind a little spoiler.

The book is packed with concept art for characters, creatures, environments, props, weapons and vehicles. There are a few sketches but most are just gorgeous fully coloured designs. The art is top notch, the environment paintings are spectacular.

There's some overlap of content with the first art book that features the first game. Here, there are additional content which makes you wonder why they weren't in the earlier book. Anyway, the first art book is already out of print so it makes more sense to get just this one.

As all the designs come with insightful commentary, there will be a bit of a spoiler when you're reading the last chapter on Mass Effect 3. If you're just looking at pictures, then it should be alright and it'll give you a nice idea of what to expect visually in the next game.

Unfortunately for a book this good, the artists aren't credited, not even with a page on the list of names like they did in the first art book. In many instances, I wanted to find out who these artists are and their websites. This is a silly exclusion, a downer.

Overall. this is a great art book for fans of the game and sci-fi art. It should be one of the top art books for 2012.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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on 16 February 2012
Disclaimer: I got this book today and read both sections for Mass Effect 1 and 2, though I have looked through the Mass Effect 3 material, I haven't read any text in that section because I awaiting the heavily anticipated conclusion to Commander Sheppard's story.

Mass Effect visual direction borrows from many works but still comes off fresh, if not wholeheartedly original but very few things are. Looking at the concept art for each section, shows Bioware's dedication towards quality as there were many revisions leading up to the final product. It's nice to read about the thought behind many of the things we see in the epic space opera.

Contained is plenty of hand drawn art, CG renders and turn table views of character models. In addition includes many stunning pieces of art, across many areas e.g. environment, character poses etc.

As of this date of review, I am pretty sure most readers, will have not played Mass Effect 3, aside from the E3 demo, Beta Leak and recently released demo, so I do warn that this book in my opinion has a significant amount of spoilers, or reveals at least. Some spoilers may be obvious but with such a story driven series, I'd rather be surprised through playing the game.

To conclude, this is a great book and welcome addition to any Mass Effect fan. The art is so captivating Kasumi Goto probably wouldn't be able resist stealing it, don't get it - buy the book.

Thank you.
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on 27 April 2013
"The Art of the Mass Effect Universe" more than the comics or books is directed at the really crazy hardcore fan. This is a beautiful edition with hardcover and good quality paper with great color and printing. When it comes to presentation the book is absolutely amazing, opening with three full page pictures with both male and female Shepard which are simply magnificent.
The book covers all three games. For each game we get to see the design process of all the "important" characters, races, weapons, locations, armors and even vehicles. Each page has a small piece of text offering insight into the thought that went into designing the various elements of this amazing universe. The text is informative, well written and a perfect companion to better understand the images.
Its truly captivating to see the evolution of some characters, like Saren or races like the quarians or krogan. There is a wealth of information here which is a pure pleasure for the dedicated fan.
Every fan favorite gets a bit more "space" like Garrus or Tali, Miranda or Legion with full page pictures with fantastic art which are all amazing work from the Bioware artists. The book also covers all of the ME2 DLC and its characters and locations, which I thought was a nice touch.
While there was clearly an effort to be thorough in trying to cover everything some flaws were glaring and a bit perplexing. Aria is strangely absent. Given a whole comic and ME3 DLC was devoted to her and she is even in the ME books its incredible how she didn't make it to these pages. She's a fascinating and fan favorite character with a fantastic design and her absence is a huge mistake.
Another very surprising thing is how little of the "villains" of the trilogy is present here. I'm talking about the reapers of course. A few pages are dedicated to the reaper forces but they deal with the ground "soldiers" only. There's no mention of Sovereign! How is that even possible? The stellar design of the reapers was in my opinion a huge factor of the success of ME, especially with Sovereign in the first game. They're menacing and imposing! Terrifying but strangely fascinating. The book not properly covering their design is unforgivable.
Other more "supporting" characters like Dr. Chakwas or Udina are also nowhere to be found although I suppose with the limited space and so much material its understanding. Also of note is how little attention was given to Liara. She gets one page about her design in ME3 only! Again, surprising and perplexing! But fear not, Kai Leng gets two full pages! Oh yeah baby!!! Right...
The book also has a problem in its layout. There's a huge number of images on every subject but most of them are small. I mean, really small! The weapons for example are shown in such tiny images its impossible to admire the fabulous design. Its a problem that plagues every page and I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to keep some images out and print just the best with enough dimension to be truly appreciated.
Now, this is still a magnificent art book and impossible to miss for someone who has enjoyed this universe for all these years. Its a great experience to see its evolution and how some characters could have been so different and how it all came together in the games we all love. The art is simply breathtaking and the information accompanying it priceless. So even with some flaws there is so much here that any ME collection cannot afford to miss this art book! But you cant shake the feeling that it could have been so much better!
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on 16 February 2012
I'll keep this short. If you are a fan of Mass Effect and love (as I do) the art direction and design of a fully realised futuristic environment in which you can immerse yourself, then this is for you! There is some amazing concept art here, from sprawling alien architecture to finely detailed character costumes, much of it previously unreleased. As noted by previous reviewers, it should be noted that there are plot spoilers contained in the section on Mass Effect 3, so be warned. All in all, an excellent book for a decent price. Nuff said.
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on 16 February 2012
Very high quality art, with good descriptions. Large sized, thick book with premium quality paper. They really have gone all out on it.

The book itself is divided into 3 'chapters', for Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 covering concept art for locations, technology and characters. The Mass effect 2 chapter includes various content from the DLC.

I would add the warning of others not to probe into chapter 3 before playing the game as some of the concepts give significant hints/spoilers at plot developments that I would rather not know until plying the game myself.
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on 1 June 2013
Considering I'm such a big fan of the games, and that I love concept art work as well, this was a no brainier. I LOVE the Mass Effect universe in a big way, and the games are fantastic. (Cannot wait for the film, by the way). I'm slowly getting into my digital art work, as I use to enjoy doing allot of art back in my school and college days. But the ideas and potential for what you can do in the digital art world now is just amazing. If you want inspiration or any possible ideas for good SiFi concept pieces, then you need to buy this book. It's a massive book and full of all the designs from the ME universe, and this includes all three games. Buy it, you'll love it.
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on 6 May 2012
As an avid and devoted Mass Effect fan, I wanted to get The Art of the Mass Effect Universe as a permanent keepsake of the genius of this great series of games - after all, there's only so long you can keep them on your hard-drive before tech moves on and you just can't play them any more.
As someone who's also very interested in the development and work that goes into making films and games, I was fascinated to learn more about what went into making this very cinematic series.
Unfortunately, this book really doesn't cover much of that.
Apart from some interesting information in the opening segments about how their designs for key characters changed (ie Saren from something akin to a cloak & cane Disney villain into something more military), the book contains almost no descriptive text at all.
That would be fine if the Art promised was copious and large enough to enjoy, but despite a smattering of some gorgeous large images (including many admittedly lovely concepts for the many planets) too many of the pages are filled with crammed and tiny images. In several cases 20-30 rough sketches of pencil drawings of character face designs crowd a page, and though it's interesting to see the design evolve to something close to the final character, in many cases it feels unnecessary. There are also many pages where dozens of images just over an inch long of the differing rifles or equipment are offered. Although colourful and neat, they're far too small for the reader to appreciate the art, and the items can actually be seen far larger, better and in more detail in the real game. Many of the pages simply end up feeling like a collection of dozens of thumbnail images where we wish we could see the art at 3 or 4 times the size to get a handle on the true craftsmanship.
It's as if the Bioware guys thought they should throw in as many images as possible, when many fans like myself would have just been grateful for bigger images that they could properly appreciate.
In many respects, it feels like a book designed and published by techies, without the aid of a publisher or editor who actually knew how to make the book a better presented and more rounded effort.
It's solid, gorgeously printed and glossy, with a solid hardback that feels durable.
Unfortunately it's not as impressive as it should be, and could have used a better editor of quality over quantity. Not the send off the series deserved.
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on 21 May 2014
Full of marvellous illustrations and lots of visual inspiration but I'd have preferred more 'diorama' type illustrations and better coverage of the character/type development. Worth the money if its at a reduced price but not full price.
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on 20 February 2012
Well this book IS fantastic. It is truly a lovely item and constructed extremely well. The cover is glossy and solid and the pages are thick and do the pictures tremendous justice. I wont go into it much more than this because if youre a fan of this amazing series you'll probably know what you're getting, but I did want to add this review to state one caveat (in case it's a selling point for somebody) in that the book, surprisingly, features practically nothing on the reapers, which are an iconic piece of design within the series. There is about a sentence on the design inspiration for the reapers, and although reaper forces from ME3 are given a brief section, there is really no dedicated pictures of the reapers themselves. This was especially odd considering the very visible and key role sovereign played in mass effect 1 - you'd think he alone would be given some space, let alone the vast forces of reapers seen in ME2 and 3.

I still whole heartedly recommend this for any fan, dont get me wrong. Just a bit disappointing such a narrative cornerstone and great design was left out!
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on 18 February 2012
I love video game concept art work, and I'm a sucker for this type of book, being an amateur artist myself. It's absolutely gorgeous.
It's a fantastic size, giving plenty of room for large full page prints, as well as sections devoted to development processes, showing each stage of conceptualisation from quick sketches, to alternate colour schemes, right through to final renders. A must have for any fans of the game who are also interesting in the creative processes that went into it.

Some of the annotations are also quite interesting, giving you a great insight into the thought processes behind design decisions and how ideas progressed throughout the development of the games.
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